Sunday, November 19, 2006


1999 Vintage - brief update

The Age's Michael Lynch has become the latest to board the youth train, which has been quickly gathering steam since the failure of the Under 20s to reach the World Youth Championship. Perhaps it's the Foster-Postecoglou shouting match that has piqued the media's interest.

There's little in Lynch's article we haven't heard umpteen times before, but the following paragraph has a keen irony to it, given that he is referring to the lack of opportunities for young players domestically:

"Questions are being asked about where the next generation of Mark Vidukas, Harry Kewells, Lucas Neills and Tim Cahills will come from."

Well, Mr. Lynch, three of those four ├╝ber-Socceroos you mention learnt their trade at European clubs. As many young Australians are doing now, incidentally.

Given that the FFA have already announced their intention to fast-track their reserve/youth league plans, I really can't see what the youth blatherers are achieving, beyond producing a great deal of hot air.

Another thing to consider is that two of those four players Lynch refers to (Neill and Cahill) did not really blossum until their mid 20s. Neill and Cahill were England second tier (even third tier in their really early days) players until 23 and 25 respectively, and weren't national team regulars until around those same ages.

In the space of five years, Neill went from a player in the second tier to one of the top defenders in a World Cup.
Lynchy is usually quite a perceptive writer but this article smacks of reactionary BS in all honesty. Has he forgotten how ordinary the likes of Neill, Grella and Bresciano were in the Olympics, let alone at youth level? If anyone during the Sydney Olympics had suggested that Lucas Neill would be among the top half dozen defenders in Germany 2006... I think you know all the cliches about white trucks etc etc.

The likes of Cahill and Kennedy were almost literally unknown four years ago and I'll bet a testicle (figuratively of course) that at least 2 or 3 young players will come out of the woodwork before the next WC campaign.

Lynch has completely ignored player trends in recent Socceroos history just to support his rather questionable thesis....

Something else I'd like to mention is something Grella said himself in a book interviewing a couple of dozen past and present Socceroos. Basically, he admits he wasn't as professional and focused as he could be in football generally around 1999 to 2000 - the period in which he was a somewhat disappointing part of the u20 and Olympic teams - and he arrived back in Italy late and out of shape after taking a bit of a holiday in Melbourne following the 1999 u20 WC.

He goes on to say that he then got himself back on track when he went on loan from Empoli to Ternana in around 2001 and had to drag himself out of Serie C (I think) football. Like you've said already, players really develop in club football.
"Another option that has been floated is for A-League clubs to be allowed to sign young players on rookie contracts and field a second XI in their elite state league competitions."

Now there's and idea i'd like to see trialled.
In the mean time...those weak Chinese are doing summink about iFozzie's remarks.

Fom the Guardian 22/11/06

"Chinese teenagers train with Dutch club Vitesse
BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) - Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem have invited two unheralded Chinese teenagers for a week-long trial, local media reported on Wednesday.

Yu Hai, a 19-year-old left midfielder for Chinese Super League club Xian United, and Xu Qing, a 19-year-old striker for Hubei Wuhan, arrived in Arnhem to train with Vitesse this week, Chinese news portal said.

"We have been looking at these two players for quite a long time," quoted Vitesse manager Jan Streuer as saying.

"If they can pass the trial, we would definitely take the negotiations further," Streuer said.
Streuer said Vitesse had been inspired to bring in Chinese talent after a friendly match between the Dutch club and Wuhan when the Chinese club visited in 2004.

The two teams' home towns, Arnhem and Wuhan, were twin cities, the report said.

Hubei Wuhan also have a partnership with English Premier League club Bolton Wanderers to develop football in Wuhan, capital of China's central Hubei province and a major industrial hub on the banks of the Yangtze river."
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